Sea Critters and NOAA

I’ve been to a lot of aquariums over the years and nothing beats seeing the animals and birds in their natural environment.  In Monterey Bay there was a pod of Risso Dolphins, that look like small greyish white whales with dark fins, crossing La Bonita’s path.  Thrilling.  The ubiquitous Harbor Seals get aggressive and charge the boat like hoodlums when you coast through their feeding and snoozing grounds.  But the presumed benign sea otter presented the weirdest sight so far.

A bunch of tourists looking down at a small cove spied a sea otter and what looked like an adult Grebe (pointy beaked sea bird), hanging out together companionably.  As they got near the beach the sea otter suddenly grabbed the bird and rolled it underwater, holding it’s head underwater and biting it.  The tourists gasped at what looked like an otter eating a bird.  Since when do otters eat birds???  After a minute or two of mauling the otter let go and the bird lay limp and head down in the water.  We felt we’d just witnessed a murder.  The otter killed the bird!  someone cried out.  Indeed, it lay there still for a long time.  And then, the bird lifted its head, shook it off and swam just out of reach of the otter.  It’s ALIVE! came the cry from the tourists, and we had no idea what we had just seen.  Sea otter sadism?

On a less weird note, we got to visit the NOAA weather station while in Monterey.  The head meteorologist, Mark Strobin, had invited anyone at his lecture a few years ago at the Berkeley Yacht Club to stop in when in town.  So we did.  We got to see the hub of weather prediction on the West Coast and express our huge appreciation for the work they do that lets us have a much better chance of staying safe out on the water.  For their part they seemed tickled that anyone would trek through the guard gates on a stormy afternoon to give them kudos.  Normally they only get noticed when they do something wrong.  So thanks NOAA, for all you do!

One Response

  1. Nice! Very cool to see you are moving down the coast Cynthia! I sure love my cards! Carol K. shared hers with me last Sunday when I was playing my harps with Martin, the jazz guitar soloist, at the y.c. We never did get to jam together Cynthia!!! Please keep posting your adventures. I’m headed to Canada for 5 weeks tomorrow. Sometime this winter I may be taking a road trip down the coast, so please let me know when you make your moves! Bon Voyage!!

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